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“The authors of books for teen-agers are still 15 years behind the times,” she wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times.
Most of the literature handed down for high school students to read had, in Hinton’s estimation, nothing to do with the lived experiences of teenagers in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Hinton published The Outsiders in 1967, a novel she began writing at age 15 and sold at 17, the idea of a teenager writing fiction for her peers was a novelty.
” Though the specific social mores of The Outsiders are dated, that freshness remains, and continues to inspire writers.
“I read The Outsiders when I was around 11 years old,” says Sara Benincasa, writer, comedian and author of the young adult book Great.
More than that: despite its age, The Outsiders continues to be a touchstone for adults who were born long after Hinton’s graduation from high school.
For proof, just look at the long tail of the phrase “Stay gold, Ponyboy.” In The Outsiders, those are the dying words of Greaser Johnny Cade, itself a half-remembered quote from the Robert Frost poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” In 2017, “Stay Gold” is a phrase you can find emblazoned on everything from t-shirts to throw pillows.
There was a vibrant internal life to the book, which is that elusive quality that all good fiction has.” And it wasn’t just Hinton’s work that inspired writers, but her background. Hinton was only 15 when she started writing it, it totally changed my definition of what a writer was.
“The Outsiders is the book that made me want to be a writer,” Greene continues. It wasn’t a job you had to apply for after checking off a list of appropriate credentials – it was just something you did because you wanted to do it.” Maybe the most abiding lesson that Hinton taught authors about writing for teenagers is that they didn’t need to water down their prose to relate to a younger audience.
Instead of acknowledging the fact that his friend had passed away, he lied to himself about the situation.
In the text it stated, “I always have been kind of absent-minded, but man, then, I was lucky if I got home from school with the right notebooks and with both shoes on.” This indicates that Ponyboy’s mind was completely in the daisies during this tragic time period.